Thursday, December 27, 2012

5-star review: Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm

And we have a THIRD five-star review of Day of the Worm at DriveThruRPG! 

The Thule Society, a dark Nazi cult dedicated to furthering the esoteric knowledge that fuels the ever growing Third Reich, may have acquired the ancient Heart of Yhtill and all the power it promises. Worse still, they appear to have partnered with malevolent aliens known as the People of the Worm, who seek to ensure that World War II devastates the entire planet, leaving humankind ripe for conquest and consumption have come seeking the Heart as well.

The PCs, working with the Allied forces, and alongside fanatical Ormazd Society allies, find themselves in a race against time to stop the People of the Worm from unleashing a doomsday device from within a hidden tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. If only the Nazis and the People of the Worm were their only worries: there is another, equally mysterious force who want the Heart of Yhtill for their own alien agenda…

"It has Nazis, chase scenes, the supernatural, traps, a teriffic cover, and a plot so thick you can cut it with your Crocodile Dundee knife. What's not to like?

Troll Lord Games and Jason Vey have given a very good example of what can be done with their Siege Engine rules and the Amazing Adventures game in particular."

--Chet Cox, DTRPG Reviewer

In addition, Amazing Adventures itself has scored a 5-star review both at DriveThru and at  
 "My imagination is really grabbed by this system. I think there is a lot of potential here and a lot I want to do with this game"
--Timothy Brannan, featured DTRPG Reviewer

I'm incredibly proud of Amazing Adventures. It may be my favorite freelance project ever. I'm absolutely thrilled to see it getting rave reviews by those who have picked it up and given it a look and play.

Unfortunately, we're not going anywhere without some word of mouth and buzz, and there is the rub--nobody is talking about the game, despite pretty much universal rave reviews from those who have picked it up. Help us out! If you haven't picked up Amazing Adventures and Day of the Worm yet, by all means grab your copy today! If you've already bought it and you like it...TALK ABOUT IT! Get the word out there!!! Post on blogs, on message boards, on facebook and twitter. I'm not sure what the process is to submit something for a nomination for an Ennie or Origins Award, but even a nomination submission would be aces for drawing attention to the project. I am negotiating with Troll Lord as we speak for extensive support for the game, but until we see really strong, solid sales, we're likely looking at mostly internet/PDF e-book support and very little in the way of print. We need your help! If we can build a player base and get sales for this puppy going, you'll be amazed (no pun intended) at the ideas I've got for this puppy. Pulp is a limitless genre, and there's no end to the directions we can go...but first, we need to kick open the door, and that's where you come in. 

If you haven't picked up a copy, take the risk--I'll give good odds you'll love the game. If you already have it and are digging it, I beg of you--hit the streets, both literal and virtual. Request your FLGS to carry it. Tell people about it. The RPG industry is cramped right now, and it's only by loyal fan-base word of mouth that we can get people out there to discover new games.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Spellcraft & Swordplay Bundle and The Witch Print Progress

Couple of new developments:

Spellcraft & Swordplay PDF Bundle

First, we are pleased to announce that we are now offering a bundle of the Spellcraft & Swordplay Core Rulebook, and Monstrous Mayhem in PDF for only $8! That's $3.50 off the normal PDF price for both![BUNDLE]


 Spellcraft & Swordplay - Monstrous Mayhem
 Regular price: $5.00
 Bundle price: $3.00

The New Class Strikes Again!
After awhile, goblins cease to be frightening, gold loses its luster, and underground dungeons, ruined cities and ancient temples ceace to be an attraction.  Your players want new sights, new adventures, and new threats to challenge their skill, might and wits.
Fear not!  For those Referees who need to give their game that spark of something new, we present MONSTROUS MAYHEM, the first sourcebook for Spellcraft & Swordplay! Within these pages you will find a new Elite Path, rules for hedge magic and legerdemain, mass combat, underwater adventures, thug rules, a host of new monsters, and more!  With all of these additions, Monstrous Mayhem is sure to become an invaluable resource for players and referees ...
 Spellcraft & Swordplay Core Rulebook
 Regular price: $6.50
 Bundle price: $5.00

Join the new class of old school!
Hordes of slavering orcs close in.  You're tired, battered and bruised, but far from beaten.  You grip your heavy sword tightly, and blink at the sweat in yoru eyes.  You're all that stands between the goodly folk of the village, and a curtain of eternal night.  And going quietly isn't your style.
Between these covers lies everything you need to begin grand adventures of dark and gritty fantasy, high epic fantasy, or even fairy tale fantasy.  All you need is some imagination and a few friends, and you're off!  Inspired by the very earliest days of the hobby, Spellcraft & Swordplay uses a rules-light system that allows play in a fast, loose and cinematic style.  It evokes the spirit of the old...

The Witch Print Edition

 Secondly, I have just [re]-uploaded the print files for The Witch. Bear with us: you'll remember from S&S's publication drama that DTRPG's system is ANYTHING but intuitive or user-friendly. But we are working on getting The Witch out to you a.s.a.p.

The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games


"By the pricking of my thumbs
Something wicked this way comes!"
The Witch covers the Witch character class and the various traditions of witchcraft one might encounter in an old-school fantasy game. This sourcebook contains plenty of information for players and game masters alike, including new spells, powers, magic items, and monsters. Compatible with original Basic Edition fantasy games, or your favorite retroclone!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Witch: a sourcebook for Basic Edition Fantasy

Elf Lair Games is pleased to announce our newest release, just in time for Halloween!

"By the pricking of my thumbs

Something wicked this way comes!"

Written by popular RPG writer and blogger extraordinaire Timothy S. Brannan, The Witch covers the Witch character class and the various traditions of witchcraft one might encounter in an old-school fantasy game. This sourcebook contains plenty of information for players and game masters alike, including new spells, powers, magic items, and monsters. Compatible with original Basic Edition fantasy games, or your favorite retroclone!

The Witch can be purchased through our DriveThruRPG storefront.

 Currently it is only available as an e-book, but we plan to put it up for sale as a softcover book very soon. The ebook is only $5.00; the softcover print edition will likely be priced at $25 and discounted through DTRPG around $19.95.  Purchasing the print edition will get you a FREE copy of the PDF. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Witches: Hex from Skylanders

It is no secret that I am a fan of the game Skylanders.  I even got caught up in all of the hype about collecting the figures and everything.  I am embarrassed (a little) to discuss the lengths I went too to get some of these figures.  There were other parents right there next to me, so I figured I was in good company.

Well just when we all thought the madness was dying down, Activision is releasing the new Skylanders Giants this weekend.  New game, new figures, and your old figures can now go to level 15 (previously only 10).  Here we go again.

I don’t think it is a stretch to  guess that my favorite character in the game is Hex, the dark elf witch of the “undead” element.  Early this year I stated her up for Dungeons & Dragons 4e and Pathfinder using their respective witch classes.
Given there is a new Skylanders game AND my new books are on the way I thought I Would stat her up once again for The Witch and Eldritch Witchery.

And yes, I have already pre-ordered my "Lightcore Hex" figure.

Here she is as an Eldritch Witchery warlock (thought this might be better).

Hex, 13th Level warlock (Goetic Lodge)

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 9
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 12

Hit Points:  30
Alignment: Unaligned Neutral
AC: 6 (talisman of protection)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Special (Spirit)
7th level: Summon Elemental (form of a ghostly vapor skull),
13th level: Summon Demon (summons a skull demon; roughly equal to a Type I)

First: Black Flames, Detect Spirits, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Minor Fighting Prowess, Sleep, Spirit Dart
Second: Agony, Death Armor, Discord, Ghost Touch, Levitate, Phantasmal Spirit
Third: Astral Sense, Cause Fear, Fly, Ghost Ward, Lesser Strengthening Rite, Speak with Dead
Fourth: Dance Macabre, Phantom Lacerations, Spiritual Dagger, Tears of the Banshee
Fifth: Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Teleport
Sixth: Death Blade, Wall of Bones

Want to see how she would look for my other book "The Witch"?
Head over to my blog and see,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Witches: Tascela (Red Nails)

Tascela, Princess of the Tecuhltli (City of Xuchotil)
From "Red Nails"

"She was tall and lithe, by far the most beautiful woman in the room. She was clad more scantily even than the others; for instead of a skirt she wore merely a broad strip of gilt-worked purple cloth fastened to the middle of her girdle which fell below her knees. Another strip at the back of her girdle completed that part of her costume, which she wore with a cynical indifference. Her breast-plates and the circlet about her temples were adorned with gems. In her eyes alone of all the dark-skinned people there lurked no brooding gleam of madness."
- Red Nails, Robert E. Howard

Tascela is an immortal witch from Robert E. Howard's "Red Nails", his last Conan story.
She is so old she does not remember her youth though she knows she learned her magic from a Stygian priest.  For this reason I choose to make her a Witch and give her the Demonic Tradition.  Her familiar has died out and she has not expanded on her spells.  She is also very, very strong and not a stranger to combat.

Here she is as an Eldritch Witchery witch.

Tascela, 1st level Warrior/7th Level Witch (Demonic Tradition)

Strength: 15 (19 with spell)
Dexterity: 15
Constitution: 16 (20 with spell)
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 19
Charisma: 15

Attacks: 5 + 3
Hit Points: 50
Alignment: Evil
AC: 9

Occult Power:  Curse

First: Bewitch I, Charm Person, Sleep
Second: Agony, Augury, Guard Watch,
Third: Lesser Strengthening Rite*, Toad Mind
Fourth: Steal Youth*

For her Lesser Strengthening Rite and Steal Youth spells she needs the life force of a young beautiful woman. Because she getting her power from such a pure source the number of years she steals is greater and her strength and constitution are greater than normal.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Witch Monster: Impundulu

Note: Here is a monster you can use with the upcoming Eldritch Witchery from Elf Lair Games.


The Impundulu, or Lightning Bird, is a type of vampiric servant used by evil witches. The bird is born when lightning strikes the ground.  To all others it appears as a lighting strike, but to the witch it has chosen it appears as a bird.  Once so chosen the bird will manifest to all as an Impundulu.
The bird can also assume the form of an attractive man to lie with the witch each night.
The Impundulu may also attempt to seduce other women, and feeds on them as a vampire, but it is not an undead creature, but rather one of the Calabim, or Demons of destruction.
The Impundulu must charm his victim to gain access to her home and bed, once there he will drain 1-3 (1d6/2) points of Constitution in blood each night. After three nights he will cease his attacks.  The victim could well be close to dead at this point. Any victim lowered to 0 Con dies. Victims killed by the Impundulu will come back as weak ghost (1 hit die).
The Impundulu is immortal and is often passed down from mother to daughter.  The Impundulu is incapable of fathering children.
The feathers of the Impundulu are considered to be a great source of magic for a gris gris or other talisman.
Impundulu have all teh same immunities as do other Calabim; Half damage to Cold, Fire, Gas, and Lightning.  They take full damage from magic and silvered weapon. They are fully immune to the effects of sleep spells and toxins.

No. App: 1
Align: E
Size: M
AC: 6
MV: 30’ Fly 60’
HD: 6 (25 hp)
Attacks: 2 talons/ 2 claws /1 bite (2 short swords, 2 hand axes, 1 dagger)
Demonic abilities, charm, drain blood
Treasure: none
XP: 1,200


Friday, September 14, 2012

Amazing Adventures!!!

Like Pulp adventure? Want to celebrate the re-release of the Indiana Jones movies in theaters, and do it in style? Can't get enough Lovecraftian horror? Or is Robert E. Howard's El Borak and Sailor Steve Costagan more your style? What about the Shadow, or Doc Savage? Well, then, don't forget to stop by the Troll Lord Games brand new preorder page and put in your order for my pulp role playing game Amazing Adventures, which will be shipping in a couple of weeks! Support the Crusade--Troll Lord puts out great stuff and I'm proud to be publishing with them!
 I have also done a chat at IRC #RPGNet recently about AA and my new World War II book for Eden Studios' All Flesh Must Be Eaten line, Band of Zombies.  The chat log for that Q&A is available for those wanting more information than is here.   
That’s when all Hell broke loose. The back window shattered, there was a distinct “ZING!” sound, and the front window followed suit. Kate let out a yelp and jerked the wheel, sending us into a fishtail. I grabbed the door frame and held on for dear life while drawing my Colt 1911. I looked over my shoulder, and sure enough there was that pink Model T. I couldn’t see if Frenchie was behind the wheel; too much sun glare off the windows. But two goons leaned out. At first I assumed they just had pistols. I leaned out the window to draw a bead, and that’s when the one goon opened up with a bloody fire-spewing hand-cannon.

I ducked back into the car. “Great,” I muttered. “Just my luck. The SOB’s got a Tommy Gun.”

Kate snorted. “Look at the bright side. He can’t aim very well on full auto.”

“That’s a bright side?”

Another long burst of fire went wild into the air. Tires squealed as cars bootlegged around us, and the screams of bystanders rang out.

Kate jerked the wheel left, down a narrow alley, just as I pulled up to lean out again. I nearly toppled head-first out the window into a wall. My fedora flew off my head.

This was definitely turning into a bad day.

“Geez, Doll, watch it!” I said, and squeezed off a couple shots as the goon with the Thompson tried to reload. He ducked back into the car while his buddy returned fire.

Welcome to two-fisted adventure with the SIEGE engine!

Amazing Adventures, the newest core game powered by Troll Lord Games’ celebrated SIEGE engine, allows you to create any type of pulp adventure hero you want, and customize them as you like! Be it arcane scholars, mentalists, tomb-raiding archaeologists, Asian martial arts masters, or gangsters and G-Men, this game has you covered. And best of all, if you’re a fan of Castles & Crusades, you can pick this game up and get playing in a matter of minutes! Inside this book you’ll find:
  • Eight brand new character classes: Arcanist, Gadgeteer, Gumshoe, Hooligan, Mentalist, Pugilist, Raider, and Socialite
  • Character customization options: Generic Class Abilities, Traits, Backgrounds, Fate Points, Pulp Costumes, Sanity rules, and more!
  • A streamlined presentation of the SIEGE engine, which uses a single Challenge Base
  • Rules for vehicular combat
  • Guidelines on how to run a pulp game
  • A complete Monster section with all kinds of pulp beasties from giant apes to Lovecraftian horrors
  • A complete starting adventure for 4-6 new pulp heroes
  • And tons more!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Help me with a kickstarter!

As some of you are no doubt aware, I freelance for Eden Studios (amongst others). My latest book, Band of Zombies, is currently wrapping up a kickstarter. We have made our initial funding goal, which is great, but we have 31 hours left to go and we are SO close to meeting our stretch goal--less than $200 to go!

If you've got a couple bucks to throw our way, it'd be very appreciated.

"We few, we rotting few, we band of zombies;
For he today that eats his flesh with me
Shall be a zombie; be he e'er so vile..."

...a grayish blur launched from the shadows. Alexei went down quickly, his throat torn out in one swipe of a black claw. He clawed at the gaping wound in his throat, gurgled, and lay still.Yuri fired a shot, point-blank range, into the thing’s head. It hit the ground and twitched, then lay still. A low growl came from the shadows and three more of the monsters lumbered forth. Movement to Yuri’s left drew his gaze; the creature he’d shot was sitting up, black blood pouring down between its eyes. The four creatures closed in just as the booming roar of a renewed German shelling attack sounded in the distance. Yuri began to scream.

Band of Zombies is the new World War II sourcebook for the All Flesh Must Be Eaten RPG, and it is positively packed with new surprises. Inside you will find:
• New Qualities, Drawbacks, Inspired Miracles, and Zombie Aspects
• Detailed Rules for Dogfighting and Naval Combat
• Rules for Shell Shock, Combat Stress, and Madness
• New gear, from guns to aircraft to naval vessels to tanks
• Mass Combat rules
• The first (optional) tactical miniatures skirmish rules for the Unisystem!
• The first complete and detailed campaign setting for All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Different types of Zombies the world over, all tied to the exact same Rise Event, create a worldwide plague of undead during the Greatest War.
• Advice on running campaigns in World War II, from fire teams to commando squads, to SOE operatives behind enemy lines.
• And more!

So strap on your rucksack, hoist your SMG, keep your socks dry, and for cripes' sake, Private, don't forget the call sign! When they come shambling out of the dark, will you stand tall or join the armies of the dead?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gen Con Post-Con Report

Well, we're back in Pittsburgh, with the Steelers-Indy (how ironic) game playing in the background.  As always I was saddened to leave Indianapolis. Great city, great people, and Gen Con is my absolute favorite place to be.  But as I am now DEAD BROKE and everyone else went home anyway, probably for the best to have come home.

As always, I had a blast.  Spent most of the con hanging out with Steve and Davis Chenault, and Richard McBain from Troll Lord Games, hawking my new game, Amazing Adventures, a pulp genre game using the Castles & Crusades SIEGE engine system. Sales weren't bad, and next year they're going to have me back to run demos all weekend at their booth. If you haven't picked up your copy of AA yet, head on over to the TLG website and place an order, or ask your local FLGS to get it in stock--it's entering distribution within a week or two!  We intend to heavily support it, with regular digital content such as encounter areas and mini-adventures that you can download and run with, and there will be full support in terms of sourcebooks and modules.  We have some big plans!

I also got to spend some time with George Vasilakos and Ross Isaacs from Eden Studios, and as always it was great to see George, and it was awesome to get to meet Ross in person after too many years of chatting and working together online!  George and I hammered out an informal agreement for my next AFMBE sourcebook, but I don't want to say too much, lest I jinx it.

I also got to meet Christina Stiles, likewise after far too many years of working and chatting together online, and that was very cool.

By far, however, the highlight of the convention was when Wil Wheaton--Wesley Crusher himself--came by the TLG booth to pick up some C&C stuff. He told Steve he's a big fan, that he loves C&C because he's a huge fan of first edition AD&D and loves how C&C took all of the fiddly stuff from AD&D and replaced it with a smooth, clean mechanic, but in a game that still felt like first ed...which was cool to hear because I have said the exact same thing--often in the exact same words--many, many times.  So after chatting for awhile, Steve sold him on Amazing Adventures, then said, "The author is sitting right there behind you." Wil turned to me and said, "Oh,  hi! I'm Wil Wheaton, nice to meet you!"  He chatted with me for a few minutes (we are both big fans of Realms of Cthulhu) then he said he'd like it if I'd sign my book for him!

I'll repeat that: I got to sign my book for Wil Wheaton!  I was over the moon--a very, very cool experience, and if anyone has any doubts about how "real" Wil Wheaton is, I'm here to tell you he's 100% one of us. Great guy and it was very cool to meet him; the idea that HE wanted ME to sign a book was unreal! I just really hope he digs the game. Somehow I now feel like the pressure is on!

After he left, McBain said to me, "I bet you're over the moon right now."

I said, "Dude, if nothing else happens this whole weekend, if we don't sell a single copy of AA after this, the entire trip was worth it!"

Before you ask, no, I didn't get any photos.  I felt it would be disingenuous to ask him for one, as he wasn't there in "that" capacity, but was just there as a gamer and a customer looking to buy a few books.  I do, however, have a few witnesses!

So, now on to the part that everyone wants to hear...what did I get?

The (impressive, if I do say so myself) haul:
Doctor Who card game
(6 copies) Amazing Adventures RPG
Conspiracy X Chronicler's Screen
Conspiracy X official Xener cards
Conspiracy X Paranormal Sourcebook
Conspiracy X Extraterrestrials Sourcebook
Abduction card game (to replace my old one that got ruined--I won this one by being psychic)
Shadowrun Runner's Black Book (limited edition, signed)
Shadowrun 2050 sourcebook
Castles & Crusades 5th print color PHB
Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters
Troll Lord Games dice set
Two "drow" dice (giveaways from WotC)
Fat Dragon EZ Terrain complete Overland Adventures
Fat Dragon EZ Dungeons ultimate collection.
Awesome.  And to top it off, the Steelers are beating INDIANAPOLIS 14-0 and just scored a sack!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gen Con Report: Day One

We arrived in Indy yesterday afternoon. Hung out at the hotel after grabbing badges for Julie and Taej. Mostly we stayed up till about 2:00 AM heckling He-Man and She-Ra on Qubo. In short, an appropriately geeky way to begin the con.

Today I spent the day in the dealer's room. Have to say I'm a bit disappointed at the offerings this year. The con seems to have grown again--there appear to be more folks here than there were last year (and last year was massive).  That's an encouraging sign. Alas, the new offerings from vendors are slim to none. I stopped over to visit George at the Eden Studios booth a couple times; will likely pick up the Con-X sourcebooks and GM screen this weekend.

I spent a goodly amount of time with the fine folks from Troll Lord Games: Steve, Davis, and McBain. My game, Amazing Adventures, was unveiled here, and I got one of my comp copies (I'll get the others on Sunday). The game looks nice; I'm thrilled beyond belief to have my first core RPG on the market (Spellcraft & Swordplay doesn't really count, as it was a DIY job). I got to sign three copies today, and will probably be doing a more formal signing appearance at the Troll Lord booth later this weekend. Till then, keep an eye out for me if you pick up a copy.

I did discover a couple of very minor editing gaffes--nothing that will interfere with the usability of the game, though.  Things like a couple of cross-references missed and a formatting code still present.  I'll compile an errata document for it.

Steve, Davis and I talked about some ambitious plans for the game; Steve wants to hit the ground running with this and I'm behind him all the way.

There's an interesting new Shadowrun sourcebook out that I may pick up.  Apparently it uses the 4e rules for the old-school OG setting of 2050.

That's about it. I'm glad to be in Indy again. Love this town, love this con.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Contemplating a kickstarter

So I've been talking about Wasted Lands (Apotheosis) and Twelve Parsecs a lot, and my biggest lament is that I just don't have the funds to do them the way I think they deserve to be handled, with real art and high production values. Well, it seems that a ton of people are having good luck with kickstarters these days, so I have begun seriously contemplating doing a kickstarter to fund one or both of these projects. But as anyone who knows me is aware, I never think my stuff is good enough, or that enough people really care. So I'd like to take a poll to see if anyone is actually interested in my doing this. In case you haven't been paying attention, Twelve Parsecs is the space opera RPG I've been working on that will be powered by O.R.C.S. (our house system). It will be set up as an overarching generic set of space opera rules, hopefully covering everything from cyberpunk-style adventures to planetary romance with starfighters and mystic warriors. It will then have an included "meta setting" that will be default for the game. The meta setting will deal essentially with secret societies in space--the Templars, the Masons, the Illuminati, and similar groups battling amongst the stars. Wasted Lands, on the other hand, is what I call "Lovecraftian Swords and Sorcery." Unlike many of the efforts to do so, I'm not focusing on the "Weird" or on visceral horror. The game will be much more Robert E. Howard in style. The premise is that it takes place about 1,000 years after the stars go wrong, putting the Old Ones to sleep. Mankind is struggling against the lingering servants of the Old Ones to carve a place in the world, and the heroes of this age will go on to be remembered as the gods of the ancient world. This game will include new elements to magic from Spellcraft & Swordplay, including a corruption mechanic and all new spells. For both games, the system will be advanced from S&S, though still recognizable. I will likely be looking for playtesters if and when the time comes as well. I would like these to be the flagship games of Elf Lair moving forward. I just need to know if there's enough interest to move forward. So without further ado, here's the poll. Please answer and feel free to comment below.
survey tools

Monday, June 4, 2012

Updates: Eldritch Witchery and Apotheosis

Whew!  Been awhile, hasn't it?  Well, Elf Lair Games is still here and still working, albeit more slowly than I'd like.

Just a few quick updates for you all.  Eldritch Witchery, the (too) long-awaited second sourcebook for Spellcraft & Swordplay, has been sent back to Tim for some fixes on the spells section--a bit more work needs be done there before she's ready for prime time. Part of the delay is my fault, I freely admit. I took far too long in editing it to this point. Hopefully we'll move forward pretty quickly from here on out, but that's why I don't like to announce release dates. ELG is a one-man show and I'm far too busy a guy these days.

Next, a quick update about a project you haven't heard about in quite some time. Apotheosis: The Wasted Lands, which is to be our core Lovecraftian/mythic swords-and-sorcery RPG. This game is, as I've mentioned before, farther along than I realized, as I did what turned out to be a lot of the preliminary work for it while working on some notes for an OD&D campaign I'm running. Over the past week I've had a few brainstorms about the magic in the game, how it will work, and the spells, and it's going to be pretty labor intensive, so I need to get up the gumption to sit down and plow through it, but it's going to be cool (and familiar) when done.

It will require me to make A:WL an OGL game, which I had not originally intended upon doing, but that's not a bad thing by any stretch.  The magic will look somewhat familiar to many folks, but won't look like your typical OGL 3.x fare. I think it's going to be very cool when done.  I can say that schools of magic, rather than being tied to things like Abjuration, Enchantment, etc., will be tied to specific Great Old Ones.  So you'll have spells that call upon Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Yhtill, etc.

I would like once again to entreat everyone if you have the funds and are a fan of Elf Lair, to pre-order Amazing Adventures, the Pulp RPG I have done for Troll Lord Games.  I plan for the proceeds from this game to fund Elf Lair and launch us to the next level.

Speaking of the next level, onto Twelve Parsecs.  As I've said before, I just need to square away the psionics for this game and it'll be just about ready for editing and layout. I am going to include a meta-setting in it, and I have what I think are some pretty cool and unique ideas for the setting, so that needs to be drafted as well.

And this brings me to my final bit of information.

There are just too many generic retro-clones and nostalgia games on the market right now.  Spellcraft & Swordplay, no matter how strong it may be, doesn't have a prayer anymore of actually competing in this saturated market.  Thus, while S&S will stay in print and publication, future development efforts are going to be on less generic applications of the O.R.C.S. system.  A:WL, for example, is going to be a game with a complete packaged setting that will be developed.  It is my belief that in order to sell a fantasy game these days, you need to give people a reason to pick up the books--most of us just don't need another generic fantasy game. Twelve Parsecs is going to fall somewhere in the middle--it will be a largely generic sci-fi rules set applicable to just about any type of sci-fi game you want to run, but there is also going to be a packaged setting that I'd like to develop as we move forward. I think the industry is swinging back to original setting material, which can be run without a great deal of preparation on the part of the time-strapped Referee. Developed settings also make it a lot easier to create tailored adventure modules, and these, I believe, are essential to supporting a game these days (incidentally, I just need to rough out some maps for our first S&S/A:WL adventure module and it should be about good to go).

I understand that all of this might turn some folks off, but I guess you can't please everyone and this is where my interests as a developer lie these days.

I like to hope, however, that the game elements you'll see in A:WL and 12P will be "toolkit" enough that you can use them generically if you're not big on the setting. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Amazing Adventures Pre-sales!

Okay, so this post isn't STRICTLY about Elf Lair Games, but it is about a project of mine that can, if all goes well, help to FUND Elf Lair Games. So it's appropriate to put it here. As some of you may or may not know, awhile back I wrote a core roleplaying game for Troll Lord Games. It's a pulp-era RPG that is powered by the same rules system that runs their popular Castles & Crusades RPG, and is entitled Amazing Adventures.

The game hit many, many, many production-related stumbling blocks, and has been in what the motion picture industry refers to as "Development Hell" for quite some time. But this week things moved forward full-steam; I approved the final edits, and now, at long last, pre-orders have been opened for it!  The pre-order system TLG is using is very similar to Kickstarter, but they're doing it on their own website. There are multiple levels of order, from 99 cents (which doesn't get you the game, but they promise to toast you at one of their in-house sessions) to $100, which gets you not only the game in physical softcover and ebook format, but five "players guide" versions of the game, t-shirts, six limited edition art prints, GM screens, and an advance copy of an adventure I'm working on for it right now. There are varying levels between that gain you elements of the above (ebook, book, t-shirts, screens, art prints, adventure, etc.)

I'm actually almost jealous and tempted to drop $100 on my own game just to get that bunch of swag.
Here's the sales blurb:
Amazing Adventures, the newest core game powered by Troll Lord Games' celebrated SIEGE engine, allows you to create any type of pulp adventure hero you want, and customize them as you like! Be it arcane scholars, mentalists, tomb-raiding archaeologists, Asian martial arts masters, or gangsters and G-Men, this game has you covered. And best of all, if you're a fan of Castles & Crusades, you can pick this game up and get playing in a matter of minutes! Inside this book you'll find:
* Eight brand new character classes: Arcanist, Gadgeteer, Gumshoe, Hooligan, Mentalist, Pugilist, Raider, and Socialite
* Character customization options: Generic Class Abilities, Traits, Backgrounds, Fate Points, Pulp Costumes, Sanity rules, and more!
* A streamlined presentation of the SIEGE engine, which uses a single Challenge Base
* Rules for vehicular combat Guidelines on how to run a pulp game
* A complete Monster section with all kinds of pulp beasties from giant apes to Lovecraftian horrors
* A complete starting adventure for 4-6 new pulp heroes
* And tons more!

In any case, I'm putting the word out there in hopes that some of you may be interested enough to throw in a pre-order. It'll help me immensely and will fund the book so we can get it out for Gen Con.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

I need sources for miniature figs!

I am trying to put a boardgame prototype together--I need resources for exceptionally inexpensive 20mm or 25mm plastic miniature figures, preferably fantasy races like orcs.  I just need 12-15 minis, but of specific configurations.  Hit me up if you know of any good sources (or are willing to donate to the cause).

Friday, January 13, 2012

Follow us on Twitter!

If you're on Twitter, we'd appreciate the following, and some retweets to bring others in!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Elf Lair Games: Looking Ahead and a Few Updates

So as I was wrapping up the main text for The God in the Dark, it required me to reference my notes for the forthcoming Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age roleplaying game (hereafter WLDA). For those new to Elf Lair Games, or who simply haven't been following along, this game was originally announced (with no release date) as Apotheosis.  It's to be a pulp swords-and-sorcery game (powered by O.R.C.S., naturally) with a pre-packaged "Meta-setting" (to borrow a term from James Maliszewski). The core rules will be tweaked to represent an even more gritty, pulp sensibility than does the core S&S rules set (which many people seem to feel is already pretty pulp). The God in the Dark (hereafter WL1) will include a hint of what's to come, with very brief peeks at a couple of the WLDA cultures and a new Elite Path designed specifically for WLDA: the Sorcerer.

As it stands in WL1, the Sorcerer is adapted from pre-existing materials so as not to expand the module into a mini-sourcebook with a complete grimoire, but when WLDA finally hits DTRPG it will have a complete original spell list and grimoire for the Sorcerer, which will be a core class replacing the Wizard and Priest from S&S.

This is what brings me writing today. I love game design. I really enjoy putting together a new game that hopefully others will really enjoy playing. For me, however, without a doubt the worst part of game design--we're talking core games, here, not modules--is the grind of putting spell lists together. It's a long and painful process of describing and properly limiting spell effects for their level, and comparing them to all other spells at a given level to ensure that there is rough parity with the power level of the effect in question.  At its simplest this process requires combing through reams of OGL material to select what is most appropriate, then copying/pasting and modifying descriptions, and at its most complex is a draining creative process--each new spell can be as involved as creating a new character class (not always, but can be) and there are generally nearly a hundred (if not more) spells in a given core rulebook.

I'm not stating all this as a matter of fact--it's just the way I feel. I'm sure there are designers out there who really dig designing spells and compiling spell lists. I just don't.

However, I realized that since I'm putting WLDA together from a combination of S&S and my Age of Conan booklets, I might actually have 99% of that work done already, save changing a name here and there for IP purposes.

So, it seems that the text of WLDA is much, much further along than I thought it was. Much like Twelve Parsecs, it is actually nearly complete. There will be some tweaks, as with 12P. I'm considering (and will likely do so) dropping Ability Scores and replacing them with the -3 to +3 bonus, as that's what matters in O.R.C.S. anyway. There will be some clarifications to combat insofar as how to handle the multiple attacks issues so that the game doesn't degenerate into "whoever wins initiative wins combat in the first round," and a few other bits and bobs. But by and large it'll be the same system you know from S&S.

Which leaves me with the same problem I've consistently faced for new releases for ELG: No artwork, and no art budget. It was fine to use public domain art for S&S--it matched what the game was about and worked well (though some of it is shamefully low-res). But for things like 12P and WLDA, I'm going to need real artwork. I can get some decent stuff in the royalty-free art purchases available on DriveThru, but will still need some stuff to fill in the gaps, and my income is zero. Elf Lair isn't paying for itself at this point--I'm bringing in $50 a month if I'm lucky (which is going largely to paying off debts so I can get solvent). I have an artist on board for 12P who is quite talented and willing to work for peanuts to get the credits, but she's also quite busy and untested in the RPG waters. So we'll see how that works out. I'm also rather new at "art direction," so I'm not sure what to tell artists about what's needed, should I get some on board. I'm not sure how much art is too much, or not enough, or approximately how often it should appear. Once every other page? Once every three or four pages?  No clue. From looking through my other games it would seem one piece of art every three or four pages is about right, with exceptions made for such things as character classes, monsters, and equipment.

Confusing and frustrating. Wish I had a few grand in the bank to get things up and running, do some real art and layout, get a distributor, and run from there. I can handle layout and design work, but I'm no artist or cartographer.

I've had several e-mails from freelancers eager to work with me, but I've had to turn them down due to a lack of funds to actually pay for artwork. So as much as I hate to ask for handouts, at this stage if there are any decent artists out there willing to work for a byline and references, or who have art laying around that they're not using and are willing to donate that is in a pulp swords-and-sorcery or science fiction style, by all means please drop me a line. Who knows? If the next two games sell well enough, maybe I can get up and running for some real, paying gigs down the road apiece.

Okay, I guess that about covers it for ELG developments right now...Oh, I did some editing work on Eldritch Witchery over the past week as well. Not as much as I'd have liked, but the editing phase has officially begun.

So there you have it: the state of Elf Lair Games as of January 3, 2012. Here's hoping with the stuff I have in the wings that 2012 ends up being a productive year for us here.

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